Sabtang Island, Batanes

Other Batanes posts found here, here and hereIMG_3410

Sabtang ended up being quite the adventure. It confirmed my previous notions that I am not a boat girl. I don’t love bangkas. I get sick and am on edge the entire time! The ride to Sabtang from the south part of Batan Island wasn’t actually too bad just a little choppy. True to The Phils, it amazed me how the captain steered and drove the boat with his foot. Yes, his foot. He stood with the upper half of his body through the roof while his foot controlled the boat. Ha! They know those waters, that’s for sure.

Arriving in Sabtang you register at the local tourism office and pay a small fee included in the tour, it is located right next to San Vincent Ferrer Church. Banderitas will always make my heart flutter a litter. Whenever we move back to The US I vow to carry this tradition on in my home. Please notice that they have used the local dried palm leaf as they do to make the headgear vakul (female) and talugong (male). IMG_3350Some of the views on the scenic drive around Sabtang. I especially love how untouched it is. IMG_3354I had no idea what a culinary feast we would have on Sabtang. I didn’t expect to enjoy fresh buko juice and a camote donut. If it isn’t fresh don’t even bother. That was one of the best donuts I have had in The Philippines. I wonder if they have them in Manila. IMG_3355Arriving at Tinyan Viewpoint was similar to arriving at Marlboro Hills, simply breathtaking. We just wanted to run and explore, so we did.

There are snack vendors at the entrance to the view point. They sell the lokal wine (palek- wine made of sugar cane), many other snacks and blue lobster apparently.

I went to the top view point and my husband trekked down to the beach. It only took him a few minutes and we were surprised to hear he was the first person our tour guide had seen do this! She hadn’t even been down to the cove. Do it, it is worth it. IMG_1704His panoramic from the beach. My goodness! IMG_1692

In the lower right photo you can see him, he looks like a small dot. I took that from above looking down.

I really did feel that we were on top of the world for a moment. It was so liberating and so beautiful. The horizon seemingly went on for eternity. DSC06372Next up, Sabtang Weavers Association and food of course!

A sweet Ivatan woman preparing the palm leaves for the traditional head dress, valuk or talugong. DSC06383The comb was quite remarkable being made from a rugged piece of wood and nails. I love seeing cultural traditions and artists in action. It is so fulfilling to see how something is made and the person behind it. DSC06385We happened to catch the talugong in action! They really do still wear them today. The head dress protects them from the intense heat as they travel and work. Below are photos of the bukayo (sweet shredded coconut biscuit) and sticky sweet rice. They were both so rich and sweet. I couldn’t finish them but I did very much enjoy them.

Chavayan Barrio really is a the village of culture on Sabtang. With it’s rows of traditional old houses, narrow streets and old sites it is impressionable. Plus, baby goats were roaming and they tugged on our heart strings. It was quite possibly my favorite encounter with an animal.

Looking outside from a structure I always wonder what the inside holds. What a beautiful place to enjoy.

Sta. Rosa de Lima Chapel still has the traditional roof as many old structures. From the church you can see the beach on the left and to the right is a giant mountain. At the base of the mountain was an elementary school. What must life be like for a child who lives and attends school there? So interesting to think about.

The traditional houses are still occupied and have gotten used to tour groups looking in on them. The lokals didn’t even bat an eye as we glanced in. To be honest, I felt a little bad that they are just used to this now. It was super interesting and funny to see they were watching videos on YouTube on a laptop in a 200 year old home on a remote island.

Sabtang’s prized possession, Ahao Natural Stone Arch at Morong Beach. I hope my opinion doesn’t deter you but it was actually a bit underwhelming in person. Looking at the photo it is really beautiful but in person it didn’t do as much for me. DSC06468Lunch was served just off the beach in a cool covered hut. The food was surprisingly delicious for being in such a remote area. Again, they use the local kabaya leaf as the plate. DSC06462The roads in Sabtang are slim! We were in a nice open window tour bus (nothing fancy but still nice and had a very local feel) and were right up against the edges on both sides. I could reach my hand out and it would be over the cliff! At multiple points we had to wait for other trucks to pass or us to back up so we could get through certain sections of the road. It was all part of the adventure, right? DSC06452DSC06438The ride home from Sabtang about did me in. Our boat got stuck on the reef because of low tide so all the men had to get off and go to another boat, then we reversed. They were able to get back on ours and then we got stuck again! It was an uncomfortable 30 minutes. The crazy thing, they do this every day! Unless there is a language barrier, what we understood was that this happens regularly.  If we do go back to Batanes we are ok not returning to Sabtang. It was remarkable and beautiful but the boat rides were enough to prevent a desire for more. Ha! Now that I finish that sentence and look at the views from Tinyan Viewpoint I am questioning that statement. Go and enjoy! IMG_3396

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